Should I still have a blog on my school, college or university website in 2020?

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Another year has gone by, and this question may have been asked in 2019, 18, 17 and so on… Is it worth spending money and time to continue to create blog content for my school, college or university in the current days with so many existing current social media channels?

The answer to this is quite simple: YES!

However, with this ‘YES’ also comes an ‘IT DEPENDS’.

Yes, you should create content for your school blog, but it really depends if you are doing it in the right way. Do you do any of the following in your current school, college or university blog?

  • Publish boring school news that students are definitely not interested in? Like the typical HR update – ‘Mr Smith has been promoted to Sales Director for the Middle East’
  • Producing really monotonous SEO content that has nothing but one irrelevant keyword repeated far too many times.
  • Posting blog articles without boosting your content the right way?
  • Posting articles on your blog without sharing correctly, meaning that you don’t use your other already owned school channels to promote it?

If your answer is yes to any of the questions above, you should really reconsider the content you create for your blog, or how you promote it. The blogging era is definitely not over, it’s just different to how it was a few years ago.

Blogging 10 years ago

In the past, blogs proved to be a powerful way to appear in search engines and in front of an audience that was searching for exactly what you were selling. Not only that, but it was also a way for companies to really show they knew what they were talking about, to show expertise!

In 2020, none of that has changed. However, the internet is overcrowded with blogs… over 1 billion blogs!

Google’s first page has only 10 positions. So, with over 1 billion blogs on the internet and only 10 positions on Google’s first page, the question is – Do I at least have a chance?

Well, the answer is that you have to try! With the right approach and a few tricks specific to the international education industry, you should be able to rank some of your blog content up there on the coveted first page of Google!

Blogging in 2020

Forget Quantity. It’s time for Quality.

You must build a relationship with your audience. You don’t want to be that pushy salesperson that only appears in front of your client when you are desperate to sell something or achieve your quarterly sales targets.

It’s about playing the long game here. Help your audience with relevant information, topics they are truly interested in. Be that person they trust when they need advice. Build conversations.

If what you are offering is valuable, your audience will definitely perceive the value!

Always aim to answer questions of your students, and for the schools that have been around for a long time, I’m sure these questions haven’t changed much in the past 30 years. What has changed, however, is the way current students ask these questions.

Before, students would send you a letter, go to a local travel agency, or give you a call. Today, they simply type this question into Google (or engage with an online community that shares the same interests – which we will come back to).

Create high-quality, original content, and you will get great results from blogging.

Do you have 10 minutes to spare, or more likely, only 30 seconds?

Your school, college or university blog visitors don’t want to read a thesis when they go to your blog. Leave that for when they join your institution.

It’s a fact that people have no time. Particularly when they are researching something online and are inundated with information. They open dozens of tabs, some remarketing ads start to follow them online, and they are distracted by something that has absolutely nothing to do with their initial query.

Do you want to get your point across clearly and keep that future student really engaged with your content? Make their life easier!

You need well-structured articles with short sentences. It needs to be skimmable and digestible.

Having watched a lot of screen recordings of visitors to Learn English In (our promotional network for member schools, colleges and universities around the world), it’s amazing the number of times the visitor scrolls down the page to simply see the article length and structure before they actually make the decision whether to l read it or not. 

So, opt for methods that make it easy for the visitor to spot that they will find an answer to a valuable question in that article. Divide your article into sections with easy to read titles and subtitles. Use lists, they really work! And, try to limit yourself to one thought per sentence.

Is this really your content? Is it Unique?! 

Well, we all get tired of listening to the same story all the time… even worse when the same story comes from the same person.

So, don’t pad out content or underestimate your audience. Create your content, sharing your expertise and knowledge in your own way. At the end of the day, it’s your company and it should take into consideration your brand voice, persona and all those marketing and communication principles.

Obviously, you can get someone else to create this content for you… as long as they understand your institution and follow important best practices for online content.

Unique content is a must-have. Simple as that. But how easy is it to come up with unique content all the time?

It’s not easy. But, at the same time, it is essential. You need to be clever and use the resources and people around you to help.

Here are some ideas to put into practice at your school.

You could ask all your teachers to collaborate with topic ideas for blog articles. For example, what are the most asked questions by the students? Different teachers will come from different backgrounds, with different life experiences… Imagine how many different perspectives on the same subject you could have from your team?

Another great source of ideas… your receptionist or front-desk team. They are your front line and are asked hundreds of questions by students every week. Could your blog articles become the answers to these questions?

What about other people or companies you are involved with? That loyal host family that has been working with you for a long time? They certainly have a story to tell.

Talk to people. This is a conversation.

So, you’ve checked all the boxes above, your visitors engage with one of your blog articles, they spend time on the page, read, comment and ask questions…What do you do? You ignore them, or at most… click on the Thumbs Up icon!

C’mon! Would you do that in the offline world? Just a Thumbs Up to a person who is really interested in you, in what you have to say, your expertise?

The answer is no, you wouldn’t. So don’t do the same online. Make the most of it and really engage with your visitor.

Reply! It’s just a message. It will keep the conversation going and could even convert that visitor into a client!

They want more. Give them more.

Imagine your blog article is a massive success…Visitors read, engage with you, and now they want more.

How easy is it for them to be notified when you publish more content?

Social media channels have different ways to notify your followers. It could be a super fan on Facebook that always see first what you post or that Youtube follower that clicked on the bell to be notified when you post a new video. But what about your blog? Is there a way to notify them about new content?

Yes, there are several. We will explore many ways to notify your audience about new content soon, but what about the old, but very effective tactic of collecting emails?

Make it easy for the reader to send you one of the most important things we have in our online life nowadays… the humble e-mail!

A good email list full of people truly interested in you is possibly one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get in touch with people, drive traffic to a channel (for example, your blog), and even convert them to clients.

Place your Subscribe Box in the right place. Why not include a scroll-triggered form on your blog pages that appears when the reader is engaged and really interested in your content? It could be the perfect time and place to collect their details.

Love Links. It’s win-win.

We all know how important link building is for SEO. Internal and External links.

However, a lot of the time people question if they should include links pointing to other articles in their own articles.

Does it make sense? To drive people away from my page to another website?

The answer is simple. Does it add value for your reader? Did you touch on a point briefly that someone else has really elaborated in that subject and it would be great for your visitor to read more about it?

And it is not only your reader you will be helping. Links will help you build relationships in the online world, mainly if you are linking to other blogs within the international education industry.

Today, you are linking to their blog. If your content is good, perhaps tomorrow they are linking to yours.

And here is a great opportunity to share Moz’s great article on 5 Reasons You Should Link Out to Others From Your Website.

It’s time to answer the question

So… Should you still have a blog on your school, college or university website in 2020?

Absolutely yes! You just need to adapt to using the techniques that really make a difference in blogging today, not those that would see success 10 years ago.

I hope this article will make you think about the content you are producing for your school. Stop, review, reflect on what you could do better.

And if you need help, we are here for you. Ask a question, share what you have been doing for your school, college or university blog, or even better, share your plans for 2020!

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